This student applied in the 2021/22 application cycle and therefore the selection process at Cambridge may have changed since then. You should read all the information a University sends you about the selection process to get the most up to date details!
Remember to check out the glossary at the bottom of the page for our explanations of all the jargon we medical students like to use!
More about this student
Sometimes students share information with us about their demographics, which may help put their application experience into a bit more perspective.
This student identifies as a British Pakistani woman who went to an fee paying school.
Course: Standard undergraduate
Interview: Online panel interview
Admissions Tests: UCAT, BMAT
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medicine?
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
Researched average admission statistics such as A level predicted grades, admission test score average and requirements. I did not want to be too far from home, so excluded all universities further than 3 hours from home. I applied strategically by choosing 2x ‘stretch’ universities where my chances were not as high but I really wanted to go, and 2x ‘safety’ universities where I thought I had a good shot of getting into. I researched the course styles and eliminated any that I knew I would not like such as PBL.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Care work (e.g. in residential care), Online work experience
How much work experience did you do?
Online work experience- 6x live sessions (each was a full day) in a different specialty. I also did volunteering for about 6 months.
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through a formal scheme or work experience placement
During the application process…
What admissions test did you sit?
BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). Note: BMAT will no longer be used for medicine applications after 2023. If you are applying in 2023 and sitting the BMAT, you can find out about it here: https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/bmat/
University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT): https://www.ucat.ac.uk/
What resources did you use?
Free online resources, Paid online resources, Paid admissions test prep course, Practice papers from test website
Medify for UCAT- useful in feeling prepared but take this resource with a pinch of salt, as some sections were much easier compared to the real test whereas other sections were harder. I also watched youtube videos to learn hacks/theories to increase speed, namely KharmaMedic. BMAT- specification and past papers from the official website, best resource I used, also watched Ali Abdal youtube videos.
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
UCAT- loads and loads of practice questions (worthwhile purchasing a question bank), identified areas of weakness and tried to learn theory behind it/put more time into it. It required quite intense revision for a short period of time, which is important to realise to prevent burnout!
BMAT- learnt the specification for the science papers, and completed all the FREE past papers, re-attempting questions I had previously gotten wrong, and writing practice essays for my teachers to mark at school. With the essay section, I initially started untimed so I could practice generating ideas, but closer to the exam, I wrote timed essays.
What type of interview did you do?
Panel: This type of interview is a ‘traditional’ sit down interview where you’ll be interviewed by a group of people, usually academic tutors and doctors. This differs from an MMI interview, which is based around ‘stations’ which have themes or scenarios attached to them.
How did you prepare for your interview?
In preparation for my interview, I started by brushing up on basic scientific concepts (BMAT prep helped with this) and then searched for Oxbridge style Medicine/Natural Sciences questions online.
I would give my family a set of questions, and ask them to put me on the spot. Once was comfortable with thinking ‘outside the box’, I practiced speaking to people I did not know very well such as teachers at college/parents with a medical background.
I would also recommend keeping up with breakthroughs/news in healthcare by downloading the BBC app and reading it regularly (even if only for 5-10min/day). A resource I would recommend reading in preparation for the Oxbridge medicine interview is a blog post on the MedicMentor website by current Cambridge medics (https://medicmentor.co.uk/interviews-at-oxbridge/). I would also recommend asking your A-level teachers if they could organise an interview with you!
What happened during your interview?
I had two panel interview which where 30 minutes each and both were very scientific related. Although, we did also talk a bit about my work experience and I was asked about my wider reading, most of the interview centred around a set of questions, which started off pretty simple (A-level knowledge) but eventually progressed in difficulty. There were also data-interpretation questions and calculations. The interviewers were very friendly and encouraging, and when stuck they would prompt me with ideas/suggestions.
Grades: It’s best to check out the individual university’s guidance on grade requirements, as they vary from university to university. Some universities will take into account your GCSEs and place more emphasis on them, whereas some may not. It’s best to find out directly from the university.
Problem Based Learning: PBL is a teaching style that many universities use to teach their medical students. Usually, you will work to solve a problem, and this is how you learn about the solution, rather than being taught the solution first and then applying it.
Online work experience: Some providers are now offering online work experience, such as the Brighton and Sussex Medical School online work experience, or the Observe GP experience by the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Paid-for courses: Some students choose to pay for courses either online or in person to help them prepare for admissions tests and interviews. There is no evidence that they give you an advantage. There are good, free alternatives for preparation for admissions tests and interviews, and some offer bursaries and discounts to students who come from low income families. Check out our guides and uni websites for more details.
Medify: Medify is a popular website which provides resources for helping you prepare your medicine application. Medify has some free resources online but some are paid-for. There are good, free alternatives for preparation available online, so check out our subject guides and the university websites for details.
YouTube Videos: There are many current and recent medical students who create videos on YouTube about their experience and advice about applying. Remember that their experience is personal and individual, and may not reflect yours. They might provide some useful advice but remember that they might be advertising paid for services. Take their advice as part of a more holistic approach alongside moderated advice such as ours, and official advice from universities and test providers.
Support networks: While not every student will have a support network to help them prepare, there are plenty of other ways to prepare for your admissions tests and interviews, such as through free online resources, like on our website.
Mock interview: Don’t worry if you didn’t have this opportunity. Interviews are designed to take into account that not everyone has the same level of preparation. See our guides and blogs on interviews to find out more about free online resources.
Insiders: Don’t worry if you don’t know people like this. Most students don’t have friends who have already been through the process or healthcare professionals that they know who might be able to support them. You can meet current medical students to speak to at open days, or via free mentoring schemes, but it’s not a requirement for you to be successful.